Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Napoleon's Naval Artillery Regiments

After his disastrous Russian Campaign, Napoleon looked for new sources of manpower for his new armies in Germany in 1813, including the marine artillery contingents bottled up in the various harbours by the Royal Navy.  These proved to be, by most commentaries, to be exceptional fighters and were a large part of his forces during that year's fighting.
Napoleon's Naval Artillery Regiments of the 1813 campaigns.  They would mostly fight in their dark blue greatcoats as the weather was exceptionally poor with almost constant heavy rains marking most of the summer and autumn battles.

Wearing dark blue greatcoats and trousers and black covered shakos with red fringed epaulettes they were often misidentified as Imperial Guardsmen.  Their unique carrot-shaped short red plume I modelled with a bit of epoxy putty (green stuff) on the top of the existing round pompon of spare hussar shako heads

The figures are Victrix guardsmen obtained from a gaming buddy who had glued them up but decided not to paint.  I was able to remove the original heads and replaced them with spare hussar heads. He did a good job in the posing for a convincing firing line.

Monday, 7 May 2018

"but you are suppose to hold here!"

Yeah, probably 2nd Manassas but “The Battle of the Unfinished Railroad Cut” has a more folksy sound;  was an interesting game of DennisC’s 20mm ACW during the monthly Friday ClubNight in which I and KevinA as Confederates were tasked with defending the unfinished railway line from overwhelming Union forces from Colin and Nate’s disparate assaults, using the 2nd Edition Fire and Fury Brigade rules (which new charts really has it resembling the regimental version!) in this fictional what-if scenario.
The Confederates were well-outnumbered in this battle and indeed even had green units (gasp!) 
The grey strip is Dennis's representation of the unfinished railway cutting which I was suppose to defend.  I did, but not in the way poor Dennis would wish the battle to be conducted :)
Dang many bluecoats.  Fun to see the numerous figures I had painted being used on the table.

Dennis near had a apoplectic fit as I promptly advanced my meagre two units toward the four units facing me a hill away and followed that by moving my other two into the woods ahead.  “You are suppose to defend the line!” exclaimed Dennis at seeing my advances. And then he really shook his head when I then ‘vanished’ my crack cavalry unit.  “Where is it?!” asked Dennis. “It’s moving hidden from the enemy”, respond I.  “Well, I better not see it behind my troops!” added Colin (my Union opponent).  “No it will not ”, I answered, “but will be unseen as you still have four blank blocks  ( indicating more possible Union units unknown as of yet ). More than fair I am thinking”

Indeed my charging Rebs were short a couple of inches from the blocks but as the rules indicate visibility into the woods, Dennis as GM, laid them out.  Colin protested but I suggested “they could smell you d*nmed Yankees a mile away” in my best Southern accent.  Dennis placed yet more Union on the table.  Outnumbered 3 to 1 but not defending his beloved railway defensive positions,  Dennis suggested “this was not suppose to happen!”.
We know the Yankees were there as we could smell 'em......

But I was happy in the tactics.  Especially as my other two units had, again, advanced ( “You are suppose to defend!”) and started to attack Nate’s Union open right flank of their attack up hill against KevinA’s few Confederates holding our right part of the line.  The two Union player’s forces had separated, leaving a big gap in the middle for me to exploit so I came to aid Kevin with this flank attack from the middle.
The units of my attack in the center directed by Stonewall himself.  Lots of bonus command points for that!

All was going well but even early in the game, when the artillery was firing at very long ranges,      casualties seemed very severe.  But now as artillery was in effective ranges due to our advances, the artillery fire became absolutely devastating. Unfortunately Dennis had severely overestimated the amount of artillery which was historically deployed and so had perhaps 4X the number of models on the table which amounted to massive grand batteries of firepower.  Even low rolls were causing disorder and mayhem.  High rolls blew away whole units, including my previously hidden cavalry which I had moved around the hill to advance upon the guns which were unsupported and partially destroyed or silenced and alone in the Union empty middle.  But un-like the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade which, one might remember still did reach the guns, my elite boys were completely destroyed by a single volley by an average die roll by the guns. Sigh.  
a view of Kevin's defence's on our right flank.  Lots and lots of artillery in this fictional what-if battle made for huge casualties

Kevin was still holding his hill but weakening against the large numbers assaulting him.  My attack from the centre had a nice effect as the green (poor) Union unit at the end of their line routed (Nate had rolled an unfortunate 1 on the d10 dice employed by FnF - which ruleset use of the single d10 makes wide swings in one’s fortunes)
This rout would allow that attack would be effective but as often happens with wargames, real time will effect the battle and it was called.  Both sides claimed victory.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Battle of Renaix (fictional)

Both Ney and the corps commander Gerard were well aware they were heavily outnumbered but were under orders to delay as much s possible the Allied advance.  Gerard was at first prepared to defend the the small ridge north of the town of Renaix but seeing the Allied numbers especially in horse to his lone attached dragoon element (8 to 1) he abandoned that plan to then occupy the woods to the west of the town and the town itself to the east to anchor his defense and place his large artillery batteries between those terrain features to cover his centre.

Lord Hill, commanding the numerous Allied force made basically the same conclusion in observing the woods and town to be the main points of the French defence.  As an assault of the centre would be deadly and overall he wanted to husband his troops for the further campaign, Hill placed the woods clearing to Stedman and his Dutch-Belgians.  On the other flank, he sent Cole along with Kruse’s Nassauers to assault the town again hoping to push the French out of the feature and into the open fields beyond. With that, his British light horse would follow up the retreat to break the French.

As the Allied centre did not want to face the French artillery in the centre, The action was to be on each end of the battlefield.  The Hanoverian brigade demonstrated the French firepower by coming within the French cannon range from its deployment to attack the town and paying the price, disintegrated forcing a command morale roll by Cole temporarily stopping his advance.  He shifted the Nassau brigade out of range and had them follow his elite 27th Enniskillen Foot to the town.

In the usual vicious town fighting the Nassauers were heavily engaged and the 27th also hurt. In several hours the Allies were retreating from the town

On the other end of the battle, Stedman had entered the woods and was slowly working his Dutch-Belgians around the western end, but the Chasseurs collapsed against the experienced French Lights and his division fell back.
Now Hill was forced to change his dispositions, moving Colville to replace Stedman while Colville’s artillery useless against firing into the woods, moved to the front.  Hill also ordered the Duke of Brunswick to move his ‘corps’ to help Cole to secure the town while he moved to help Colville and his command. Like Wellington, he needed to be everywhere.

Perhaps seeing the redcoats cresting the hill or feeling safety from the French, the Dutch-Belgians regain their composure (my roll of a 6 had them fully recovered from that unfortunate corps morale roll previously!)

Cole’s assault on Renaix failed and around noon, many journals of the battle would recall the strange silence over the battlefield.  No guns fired, no masses of troops moved.

Hill, seeing Cole’s lost effort against the town and Stedman’s weak division holding the flanks, the French still happily in position, pondered if fresh attacks would merely squander his force.
On the other side, Gerald, on the left and behind the woods wondered why the silence while Ney on the right pursued his debate whether to hold the town or retreat intact.

Both sides in their debates asked if a further clash would serve their campaign victory further when a lone Enniskillen officer shouted, “That’s enough going back, lads!” and the regiment abruptly turned around to once again face the enemy. ( I rolled the miracle 6 on the dice once again!)
Hill upon seeing that all was not lost, again ordered adjustments in his tactics for further attacks.
He move the horse artillery to start a bombardment of the town and caused the remaining French formation to abandon the town as fires were ignited.

On the right, western flank, Stedman started successfully to envelope the French far flank, as Colville’s impressive column moved to the woods. While his corps morale held, Gerard knew his time was limited. he had not the troops to cover his right as the town that was his anchor will soon be taken and his overall positions would be overrun. Surprisingly Ney suggested the withdrawal.  So after five hours of fighting, Gerard called for the retreat and all his units started to move to his LOC ( the optional rule offers a “retreat order” which does not count PiPs command points but does not allow artillery fire or strong fighting. The opponents must still roll for command but for any light horse)  But with this, the Allies had a big advantage in light horse, but seemingly caught off-guard by the precipitous French withdrawal, the previously idle Allied light horse stationed in the centre of the Allied line for this purpose, could not quite catch the French as they exited the table…. merely the mathematics of distance and the measuring stick.

However the pursuit continued with a few batteries of Royal Horse Artillery adding effect to any squares forming to ward off the British hussars but this practice ended when the French dragoons stopped to lend assistance.  Nevertheless the French retreat did not stop until they returned to Leuze late in the day.

While the Allies had a huge 23 to 7 element advantage, most divisions including the D-B horse and Colville’s divisions were not in the action and overall casualties were light.  However while Gerard accomplished his starting goals, the Allies would claim victory in this, the third of the 2nd Day battles of the 100.5 Day campaign.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Battle of Ath (fictional)

The third battle of the fictional100.5 Days Campaign.
The Prince of Orange with his Dutch-Belgian aide. (Perrys)  Nominal commander of the Allied effort.  His tactical advise was not heeded but probably should have been.  The small independent Allied commands suffered as a result.
The Prince of Orange was nominally in command of the contingent of the Allied army consisting of the Dutch-Belgian divisions of Perponcher and Chasse, along with the British and Hanoverian brigades of Alten and British and KGL brigades of Clinton together with Ponsonby’s Heavy Horse. He was ordered to attack the seemingly small contingent of French sitting on the village of Ath.  Through intelligence confusion, it was thought the French were that of d’Erlon’ infantry and the weaken Exelman’s heavy cavalry corps from the battle at Leuze but it was indeed the corps of the determined Vandamme and Kellerman’s heavy horse ready in a defensive position holding Ath.
The early French movement by Kellerman and Quiot's Division to the left.
The early Allied advances.  On the right, already Perponcher's command is failing.  Ponsonby's small but strong British horse can be seen to his left wearing red coats and the Union Brigade's Scots Greys noticeable on their grey mounts.
Chasse's militia with orange flags are moving purposefully to the village of Ath (upper left of the photo).  Alten's command in line in the centre with Clinton's small contingent behind.  They would make no headway against the fire of the French guns (deployed on each side of Durette's division in the middle)
Given his military record, the Prince of Orange, offered no command assistance due to the experienced British divisional commanders stubbornly would not heeding his advise not to attack such a strong French position and numbers.
 [Ed. Note: I rolled for this eventuality as, while I had laid out the battle and even had DaveB’s agreement to the French deployment, I actually felt the Allies would not win such a game and so wanted to withdraw but was out-voted by the dice!]

Perponcher on the Allied right was to advance forcing Kellerman to counter thus giving Ponsonby and the British Heavies and chance to counterattack with advantage.  In the centre, Alten would try to pin the French centre with Clinton following up.  Chasse’s weak division of Dutch-Belgian militia would serve to pin the French force of Donzelot’s division in the village.
Chasse's Militia advance.  The figures are plastic conversions made from British bodies and French arms and packs!
Rather poor command by Perponcher this day (my poor dice rolling of his command PiPs throughout the game…) had his command already strung out and his rather strong artillery contingent was hurt as Kellerman’s horse artillery deployed far to the front, playing upon the limbered artillery and destroying two batteries which prompted Perponcher to deploy them too early.
Belgian line of Perponcher's command.  Plastic conversions by me from Perry British bodies, Victrix French arms, with Victrix British heads and one of Prussian. Packs are French.  The shako plates are close enough for me to be untouched. "Button-counters" might disagree.
On the Allied left, Chasse’s small division was better handled and immediately assaulted Ath as more to avoid the worst of the French artillery canister fire than in engaging in the urban fight.
However they found some success and fought tooth and nail with the veteran French within through most of the day only to be spent by the early afternoon.
Kellerman (the lone cuirassier wearing the bicorne hat - left-center) directs his cavalry. The green flag on the base is our command 'step-down' indicator which represents a half pip on the black die on his base.
Kellerman’s Horse made slow progress moving to the left against Perponcher’s Dutch-Belgians which held up the French infantry reserves of Quiot’s Division moving to that sector.

Ponsonby was observing these moves but was unwilling to move toward the French guns.  The French numbers in guns would tell in the battle and would influence much of what happened in the battle.  The early success of the artillery already weakened the Allied artillery strength concentrated in Perponcher’s command and the Allies had very little elsewhere to counter the French numbers.

Because of it’s concentration, the Dutch-Belgian artillery did have some success, notable singularly causing the loss of a cuirassier element but Kellerman’s command shrugged at that morale loss ( I rolled the required 6 on the command morale!) and continued to harass the Allied right flank commands.   Perponcher’s infantry was forced into square but some already battered, succumbed to the French horse.

In the middle, in face of massed artillery fire, Alten’s Division sustained heavy casualties and decided to finally heed the PofO’s opinion and turned his command away from the French guns’ canister range. Clinton, behind Alten, halted and thus the Allied attack in the centre faltered.

Ponsonby’s horsemen wanted a chance to attack the French dragoons and to perhaps grab victory however unlikely (I rolled for the likehood than that of a controlled withdrawal…very realistically given the British cavalry’s historical record!) However the LifeGuards failed to defeat the French veterans and the Union Brigade wisely did not follow but held.
the last important combat of the battle between the British Life Guards of Ponsonby's command and the green clad French dragoons of Kellerman.
At this point, the battle was very much in the French favour.  It might be noted that the brave Alten brought forward his only viable brigade to support Ponsonby’s failed attack of the French left, but Perponcher’s contingent was now spent as was Chasse. Ponsonby withdrew the rest of his horsemen to be prepared to play rearguard along with Clinton’s fine division unhurt in the middle but unable to make any impression on the main French force.
Kielmannsegge's Brigade of Hanoverians.  Each of the different uniforms represent the individual battalion sized regiments which constituted this formation during the historical campaign.

In the late evening, Allied elements were breaking while the French command morale was holding (the result of my rather lopsided die rolling I am afraid. However, the slow disintegration of the Allies was a logical result nonetheless and the morale chart will always reflect this) The Allied commands one by one started to withdraw. The French continue to hold Ath and the Allies withdrew, Ponsonby’s cavalry holding a successful rearguard action against the now weakened French horsemen.
The 52nd Light Foot Regiment and 95th Rifles of one of Clinton's brigades unengaged in this battle.

Vandamme toasted to the victory.  History will record that he did not immediately report his achievement to Napoleon.  His chief-of-staff would suggest the gathering of casualty numbers and dealing with the enemy dead as the reason. Nevertheless, the length of the engagement would not allow either side to offer contingents to any of their other forces in the area.

Analysis: Because of the lack of overall command in the Allies camp, each small division had it’s only a small command morale amount.  And while mathematically the modifying number is proportionally equal regardless of strength, the unified French commands did not suffer the potential morale loss as do the small Allied commands.  Interesting to note for fictional play rather than historical commands which is our usual staple game.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Hal of a battle

AAR of the fictional Battle at the town of Hal occurring during the second day of the 100.5 Days campaign.

[A game scenario created by the map moves based upon the Waterloo Campaign by myself and DaveB who commands the French strategically and offers grand tactical advice for my solo play.]

In a bid to take Brussels, Grouchy was ordered to force march to the town of Hal, defeat or make retreat the small force there and thereby open the road to that key city.

The hard march took a toll on Vandamme’s infantry as he had a large number fall out on the way,  finally reached Hal late on Day 1 of the campaign too late to engage but allowed him a long look at the defences.  Only the hill to the east was the break in the otherwise flat bare terrain around the town.

A French officer questioned a local and he reports "there is only soldiers wearing skirts in the town” and it was noted in the fading light, camp fires behind the town, some British along the river but no masses of horsemen.

The town of Hal was on the north side of the river which could be only crossed by three bridge close to one another.  This would channel the French attacks and negate Exelman’s corps of dragoons until the town was cleared by the infantry at which point they could pursue the retreating Allies.
Eagle's eye view of the Allies deployment. The elements touching the buildings are considered within, the others are in reserve. 

Grouchy as overall commander ordered that the artillery deploy close as to pound the forces arrayed and defending Hal.  Exelman’s horse artillery was stripped from him to help while his horse was moved to the northwest and be in position to pursue the Allies once pried out of the houses.
The French deployment.  Exelman's cavalry are moving to the west while the French "grand battery' of guns are limbered concentrated in the middle of the two columns of d'Erlon's infantry to cross the two nearest bridges to take the town.

The Allies, as noted, were small in number, but Wellington, while shifting the bulk of his forces west to counter the French moves to Ghent, left this road block to Brussels.  It consisted of the elite of his forces: Picton’s Division of Highlanders and Cooke’s Foot Guards.  Along with a brigade of Hanoverian militia and a few batteries of foot guns, they would need to halt Grouchy’s attack.

Gordon commander of his Highlanders wondered aloud if sitting in the town would just allow the French artillery to pound them until they collapsed but Wellington responded “Cant be helped.  To abandon would just allow the French dragoons to force us in square and await the artillery and infantry to destroy us further down the road. No, Gordon, we shall stay.” He mused to himself that the town will mitigate much of their artillery fire.  They can’t sit there all day and the French must attack us at some point.  Grouchy will follow his orders as he always does.
Gordon, taking the silence to mean a rebuke blurted “Och Aye, we must plant ourselves here”.  Wellington, slowly taking himself out of his thoughts, replied “If there is anything of which I do not know, it is agriculture”

Upon seeing the masses of French marching toward him, he ironically waved his hat in salute.
Wellington waves his hat at the oncoming French and Gordon looks on.

Led by the Swiss of Habert's Division and followed by Defol’s determined soldiers, the assault of Hal began while the other three divisions of Vandamme’s command would attack over the wood bridge further to the west.  The artillery was ordered to be concentrated in the centre near the town.  This limbered artillery offered a good target for the British guns positions east of the town and some batteries were wrecked but the toll could have been worse (my die rolling helped!)
Once in position the combined French guns pounded the town but, as Wellington, suspected, not many Highlanders holding this eastern potion of the town were made casualties.
The French columns advance!
The wheels indicate the artillery elements are limbered and moving. (Actual limber teams would create too large a footprint on the table)

Wellington, decided despite the potential artillery fire, to fight the oncoming French Swiss in the open before the bridge and deployed the Gordon’s outside the town quickly regaining their disorder by use of his additional command points.  The Swiss crossed the bridge but bounced off the Highlanders but the Scots were now forced to countercharge or be exposed to the massed French artillery.  While again successful the Gordon’s were now a spent force.  Despite the loss of the Gordons, some third of his meagre force, Picton’s corps morale held.
The moment of combat between Pack's Brigade represented by the Gordon's and a brigade from Habert's division

At noon, a bit of a lull in the fighting as the French redeployed moving back weakened elements and moving the second column onto the middle bridge.  An hour later, now in position, both columns attacked the eastern portion of town.  The Cameron Highlanders now defending, were caught up in a hard fight with no advantage to each side.  (the continual ties in combat die rolls quickly wore down both sides!)

The French artillery, now devoid of targets broke up the ‘grand battery’ moving east and west to find new targets.

With the elimination of the Camerons, Picton decided to commit his Hanoverians in a last bid to retake the eastern portion of the town before they would be destroyed by French artillery in any event.  The attack would take itself but more importantly one of the brigades of Vandamme’s corps forcing a morale check.  Unknown to Picton, Wellington had ordered the supporting 1st Foot Guards to charge the exiting victorious but weak brigade of Bethezin’s division.  The combat was one sided and the French quickly ran (8 to 4 numbers!) but Wellington’s hoped for French collapse did not occur so the battle would continue into the darkening hours.  He was determined to hold to the last musket ball if at all possible; Brussels and the campaign was at stake!
Picton looks on as the British artillery fires OVER the Hanoverians

The last of Picton’s force, his artillery, was destroyed by the French firepower across the river.  Picton’s tophat was plucked off his head by one 8 pounder ball….
In the western portion of the town, the 2nd Foot Guards fought hard to hold the town and lost most of its strength but held on against determined French efforts during this thirteen hour struggle. (played comfortably in a short evening’s time, mind you)
Both sides were forced to assess their chances....via the rule's corps morale chart!   Vandamme’s infantry could not continue any attacks, its losses too great but the British still could hold thus giving Wellington his victory
He muttered to himself, “ That was a very near run thing”
Dusk and the end of the action
death of a popular officer

In game terms, the French lost 5 or 7 infantry elements, the Allies their two elite Highland units, and the Hanoverian element. The 2nd Foot Guards were down 70%.  While Exelman’s Cavalry Corps was not engaged, it could do little further damage and would not attack the town.
The only force with any military value were the 1st FG but they were enough to close the door to the French taking Brussels this day.

Hal of a game, that!
a Guardman gives the finger(s) to the French

Saturday, 14 April 2018

RCW action at the club

DennisC brought out his 20mm Russian Civil War collection for a rare go of it.  I volunteered to help out and frankly play with much of his collection as I had painted much of it quite a few years ago.

Using a simple but sort of frustrating rule set (d10 dice employed with usually needing a 9 or 10 for hits)  which is a 10% chance...and I can not and did not roll many in all the rolls I did this game...

Dennis had me as a Red.  What? a commie bast***d?!  Oh, well.

Hugh, my comrade, had five infantry units and a gun to attack two White units embedded in protective woods and also had to cross rough ground muddy fields (half moves) to get to them and one of our objectives.  He had a tough time of it unfortunately.
Hugh's initial postion on the left, The two White units on the road would quickly seek the protection of the woods behind them.  One of the objectives is the building with the yellow star beside it.

I had a lead of two FT-17 WWI era former French mini tanks and some rather ineffective (as it turned out) mortars to help my three infantry units come from the far right flank to take the hill our other objective.
My contingent with the two tanks leading. The elite Women's Brigade can be seen next to the hill leading the movement of my infantry in that direction while the tanks would continue along the road. My dubious 'artillery support' of mortars are the wagons near the road and rail line.

Yeah, OK I had a train appear with a big gun and another mortar and yet later a band of horsemen but these would start much further from our goals. The train was blocked by debris on the tracks and so could only offer long range fire and with my typical very poor dice rolling, offered little in support.

Apparently during the scenario development, Dennis did not contemplate the tanks taking on a 'blitzkrieg' type operations as I used them to run them up the hill to take that position despite the artillery arrayed.  While 'winning' the game in this lightning strike, it was agreed I would need to bring up some infantry to secure the position.  My poor dice rolling had my units move ever so slowly. (the rules have each unit move a small distance in inches + a d10 dice roll...which I would consistently roll 4 or less each time!) My units moving in a flanking move moved very slowly indeed.... Another few hours of gaming might have brought us that conclusion but the evening was done and so an unlikely very minor victory for the Reds was the result.  
My tanks would continue along the roads and up the hill later in the game and take the White position and their artillery positioned there on. The second yellow objective marker can be barely visible on the far side of the steep hill.

Fortuitous foot cuirassiers....

The old adage "Stop and smell the roses" tells us that we should appreciate good things which can happen on the way.  It is thus, which for this miniatures wargamer, came to create a unit which I really wanted to build and which happened quite quickly at that.  Let me explain these fortuitous events.

A generous donation of Perry plastic dismounted dragoons added, with the few I had collected,  allowed me to create a nice contingent   (see my post at: link  )

Having just completed this contingent (it was still drying on the painting table!), I was flicking through my reference book and stumbled on an image of a dismounted cuirassier.  I love the look of a French cuirassier - probably developed in my very early years and which sent me in the direction of Napoleonics to begin with - and so I almost contemplated repainting that which I had just done. But reason prevailed.

I was to leave it at that but fate intervened.  Very shortly after, and out of the blue, another wargaming buddy gave me his 8 Perry dismounted dragoons! (Thanks Dave!!)  This would now allow me to create my dream of foot cuirassiers!
The dismounted cuirassiers of the 8th Regiment 

The modelling was not that difficult, being plastics and all. The dragoons lapels were scraped off to produce the cuirassier's single breasted tunic and the helmets could be used with the appropriate paint scheme. However the dragoons arms supplied could not be used being without the necessary fringed epaulettes.  So I used spare cuirassier arms and removed the cuirass frill, for sword in hand, or used spare Victrix arms with the fringed epaulettes and cuff flaps for those troopers not wearing gloves and armed with muskets or carbines; or created them with attached epaulettes as required.  Yeah, OK at three hours it was long but immensely fun (for me it was fun, for others...perhaps not so).  To top it off, in the parts bin I found a cuirassed torso so I would chop one of the walking poses in half to attach the cuirass to the legs leaving in place the tunics turnbacks which fit remarkably well.  I claim to have a steady expert hand in the cutting but probably I was just lucky and thankful the Perrys are very good in keeping all their figures in scale......  Thus I am able to have one of the trooper continue to wear the beautiful armour in all its glory.
the trooper still wearing his cuirass can be seen in the middle of the formation

As my dragoons have red facings, I gave the cuirassiers a contrasting yellow regimental distinction.  The cuff flaps, usually hidden under the large leather gloves, are now on display showing that these foot sloggers are from the 8th regiment.
the group's command is mounted on the right.  The bigger "big man" is the bicorne wearing horseman on the left

Hmm, were the 8th in Russia during the fateful 1812 campaign?  This long invasion of Russia caused such attrition in horseflesh that it was said whole formations became foot bound even before the snows started falling.  This would be the rationale for the cuirassiers ever to contemplate abandoning their mounts in action. (to answer: yes they were and so the setting of any of the games with these blokes)

At this point I don't really have a ruleset in mind for the collection but for most sets one does need command figures so I decided to re-purpose the only plastic General I have for my other Napoleonic collection; itself an conversion by me, and made him my potential overall "Big Man" and his accompanying trooper, as the leader of this cuirassier troop.  As I had, as fortune again would have it, acquired two more cuirass wearing officers in metal recently, these were 'promoted' to Generals to replace the plastic version added to this all-plastic collection. (the unity of grouping and Virgo-ness in me I guess)

Whether I will acquire yet more is for the future; but it is fun to have a very unique collection.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Battle at Leuze (fictional)

The Battle of Leuze
during the 100.5 Days Campaign

A gasping courier galloped up to Uxbridge as he and Cole, who commanded Hanoverian militia and the elite 27th Foot, stared at the masses of French arraigned against them.
Uxbridge did not need to read the couriers note. The French had crossed the border to start the campaign and this would be the first battle.
He turned to his aide, "Please tell The Duke that a corps of heavy cavalry followed by at least a corps of French infantry are making to Leuze.  We cannot stop them and will retire north but they are upon us.  We shall de everything to delay them and protect the baggage.  Go now!"
To Cole he said, "I shall be needing your artillery assets.  The horse artillery may prove useful. Hold as long as possible then retire.  Hopefully my boys will hold the Frenchies for a while."
Cole just nodded and moved away to get things moving.......


Wanting to run through our miniatures rules for the upcoming convention game and, frankly, to give myself some interesting solo games, I asked DaveB to be ‘the other player’ for the strategic maneuvers to generate the scenarios. We using the block game of “Napoleon” by Columbia Games [based on the famous 100 Days Campaign in modern Belgium which produced a few large battles including the biggie of Waterloo] which DaveB introduced to me a few years ago. As it is only between the two of us, and he is in a distant city, we both know it will be a genteel affair with moves done when we can.

After some minor sorting out of the campaign rules, maneuver conditions and overall concept, Dave as L’Empereur made the opening moves concentrating his forces in the east against the Prussians and advancing upon the foremost of the Allied forces at Leuze on the way to Ghent held by the British light cavalry under Uxbridge and the infantry division of Cole represented by the Inniskillen Regiment and Hanoverian Militia.
French commander Kellerman once again urges his heavy cavalry forward

 The French were led by Kellerman’s Heavy Cavalry Corps followed closely by d’Erlons Infantry Corps thus heavily outnumbering the Allied units.  Seeing these numbers, the Allies quickly decided to retire northward using their light horse to slow the advance in order to get the baggage onto the road north.
French deployment somewhat hampered by the woods and small village to each side
The Allies deployment.  Cole's command had to deal with the wagons which needed to be moved and protected

Dave indicated that he wanted to cause disruption and capture baggage etc so I added three wagons to Cole’s command (without the additional command PiPs!) to add to the difficulties of the British withdrawal as the rules do a poor job simulating this aspect of a battle - not having been designed for this level of the battle
The Allied commander Cole trying to direct traffic.  the small green flag is a step-down indicator for his command's morale.

Uxbridge as a senior commander requisitioned Cole’s artillery, being handy horse artillery, to be attached to the light horse and deployed in a rough semi-circle to face the heavies of Kellerman.
While 4 elements of light horse might be equals to the three elements of the French heavies, d’Erlon pushed forward his light horse lancers to help.

Aside: As the game map is not detailed, for the scenarios, I would dice for tabletop terrain with each square foot having a slight possibility of having woods or a small village decorating the battlefield.  In this case, a woods and a small village would funnel the French to a narrow frontage. 

It was up to the French heavies to clear the way for the following infantry to advance.  To counter this, Dornberg’s brigade represented by the 2nd KGL Light Dragoons, immediately attacked the Carabiniers protecting the Royal Horse Artillery which did good service of weakening the other French heavy horse.  A few minutes later the battery will come under attack by the 11th Cuirassiers in fine style. The 11th would do sterling work this day but at what cost for the campaign....
The 11th Cuirassiers overrunning the RHA rocket battery.  Their charges will no doubt be the subject of glorious paintings in the future but cost them a great deal of strength for the rest of the campaign.

Meanwhile Cole was not doing well organizing the retreat (he rolled 1 twice consecutively for command activation!)

In further action in the open fields before Leuze, the fatigued 11th French cuirassiers (rated heavies despite having no cuirass as historically they were not armoured during the campaign) held off a flanking attack by the British 7th Hussars (rolling 3 vs 0 in combat!).
This remarkable result had the 7th fall back into the path of the French Lancers who damaged them in their own flanking attack!

Uxbridge’s command with the loss of half his numbers fell back as a result of command morale, which ironically helped his tactical situation.  Kellerman, in contrast, while also having large losses, was not fazed in his determination (rolling a 6!) and continued to press.  However, his troopers, were close to collapse having few combat efforts left in them most down to only 1 left in their combat rolls.
The advance by d'Erlon's infantry was steady but they did not engage the quickly retreating Allies.

With a temporary separation and finally getting organized (rolling a 6 for command PiPs….) Cole, somewhat jingoistically, had the elite 27th Foot (Inniskillens) about face and race north.  The Hanoverians having been in square with the French heavies about, were later order to retreat north but were caught by the 11th Cuirassiers and decimated.
The bulk of the British baggage had escaped however and the French heavies had some losses with two of the brigades having substantial losses.   d’Erlon’s corps had not entered the action except in a support role for the horse.  One element of foot artillery however managed to deploy and after a round of concentrated fire, caused substantial combat loss to the 18th Hussars which were the only British untouched element up to that point; at which Uxbridge had all units retreat.  With Kellerman’s horsemen exhausted and the following infantry unable to advance faster, the battle came to a close in the late afternoon.
The British in retreat.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Sharp Practice trial test

In a tiny village somewhere in Russia during the year 1812.....
My dismounted French 5th Dragoons - plastic Perry plastics with some minor conversions.  
One well-known rules which I have never played is the Two Fat Lardies “Sharp Practice”.  A couple of weeks ago, WillB offered to introduce in a game between his Russian Jagers and my newly painted never-yet-on-the-table dismounted French Dragoons.

Interesting mechanics but not much of way of tactics as we plowed through the elementary rules for only a few turns.  Definitely a small unit game.  The card/chit pulls and frequency are very important.  Not really enough time to make an assessment so more play is needed but they could be useful for other periods.

The 'grave marker' is showing one level of "shock".  WillB's Russian jagers inhabit my new church model in the distance.
The 'Big Man' (lower right) directing the elite section of the dragoons forward. 
Nice to see my newbies on the table, nevertheless, along with the recently constructed Russian church.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Zulu using TMWWBK

The British camp defence. The British rifles in line provided huge firepower.  The NNC, with their red rags around the heads for identification,  provided additional firepower....well a bit anyway and luckily were not challenged in combat.  

Having just looked at my 15mm Zulu War collection the previous day when the call went out to host a game I thought of using them - they have been in the boxes much too long!  Hmm, using which rules?  Having played “The Men Who Would Be Kings” recently I figured I could guide everyone through and as JimF also joined, he could help.  Actually the first time using tribal forces by any of us (and it showed!) .

 I took the roll of the Zulu in my recreation of the famous Battle of Isandhlwana so I wanted the British players awed by the numbers facing them. They were not; despite having painted and based the remaining 96 I had yet to do, during the previous day. This ultimately gave the Zulu 6 impi/units with 48 figures each.  Actually not as impressive as it might sound as TMWWBK has the British infantry unit at 12 figures and a tribal at 16.  My 48 still represents the 16 strong tribal unit but in bases rather than individual figures; but the look on the table does somewhat display the historical strength disparity in this battle.
The 'historical attack' of the Zulu upon the British at the mountain of Isandhlwana.
While having appealing mass, still represents the 16 suggested by the rules.

I was discouraged almost immediately by my poor activation rolls for the Left Horn which did not get the order to advance apparently. Wrong side of the hill from the rest?  But the other impis were soon advancing at the double toward the British lines.

Francis commanding half the British which included the Natal Light Horse and he had them scout the plateau then do a sneaky move to go between two Impi,  which had left a gap, to move into the rear hoping to distract them (me) from advancing further.  I ignored that move and managed to move into contact of the left flank British company destroying half of that formation but excellent dice rolling by Jim (six of the twelve dice were 6s!) had my boys bounce off.  That was the closest the Zulu would get to any victory.  The overwhelming firepower by the British would not allow the Zulu to make contact despite their excellent discipline.
The excellent 'leadership' bonus of the elite modifier and my decent die rolling, had the Zulu arrive this far...they will however be shot up soon.....

The Left Horn finally came into range but by then the other units were spent.  In the post battle analysis, my advance without waiting for the Left Horn units was criticized as not timing the attack to arrive together. Probably correct. Using “Go To Ground” activation might have saved those units of ‘the Loin’ shot up, for later.  Also we started to talk of tactics (!) like using one unit in line to soak up hits as others come behind still fresh.  I set up my units as per the historical model and the usual Zulu way, but food for thought.  
only 5 of 16 left but my die rolls their bravery and discipline keep them in the battle.

While using 15mm figures, we made no changes to the rules including that of distances so using inches.  The Zulus with the extra d6 of movement and my unusually good activation die rolls for most of the game had them moving rapidly…into the rifle fire…. and defeat. History not repeated.